DAMASCUS  - President Bashar al-Assad said his forces need more time to win the battle in Syria and scoffed at the idea of creating buffer zones for displaced people, as fighting raged across his country on Wednesday.

Assad’s statements, in an interview with pro-regime Addounia channel to be screened later in the day, came after a car bomb rocked a funeral in a Damascus suburb on Tuesday, killing 27 people.

“I can summarise in one phrase: we are progressing, the situation on the ground is better but we have not yet won - this will take more time,” Assad said in advance excerpts of the interview with the private channel.

Assad also rejected an idea being championed by Turkey of creating buffer zones within Syria to receive those displaced by the conflict so they do not flood across the borders into neighbouring countries.

French President Francois Hollande said on Monday France was working with its partners on the possible establishment of such buffer zones. But his foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, admitted Wednesday that implementing these would be “very complicated” and require the imposition of partial no-fly zones.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey is in talks with the UN on ways to shelter thousands of refugees on Syrian soil.

He was speaking before leaving for New York to attend UN Security Council meeting on refugees on Thursday.

Assad also mocked regime defectors, saying their departure amounted to a “self-cleansing of the government firstly and the country generally.”

Syrian rebels, meanwhile, said they destroyed five helicopters in a raid on a military airport between the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib on Wednesday, while state television said the attack was repelled.

State television said the military repelled the attack with the airport suffering “no material damage.”

Initial reports indicated government troops suffered 14 casualties in Taftanaz, while two rebels and a civilian were killed elsewhere in Idlib province, it said. And in Damascus, activists reported a third straight day of army attacks on rebel strongholds in the eastern outer belt of the city, collectively referred to as East Ghuta.

Russia on Wednesday called for an impartial investigation into the latest “barbaric” violence in and around Damascus.

“We insist on a meticulous and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the latest tragic events” using the resources of the United Nations’ newly opened office in Damascus, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Free Syrian Army rebels on Wednesday kidnapped a Palestinian woman doctor, Mona al-Sayghi, from a military hospital in Yarmuk refugee camp.

In violence across the country on Wednesday, at least 52 people were killed, including 32 civilians, according to the Observatory.